Recently reviewed films now showing in metro area theaters:

Atonement (R) Based on the best-selling novel by Ian McEwan, director Joe Wright's "Atonement" is a haunting and mesmerizing period-piece drama along the lines of "Cold Mountain" and "The English Patient." Keira Knightley and James McAvoy play star-crossed lovers torn apart by the false testimony of a jealous and vindictive little girl. 31/2 stars - Michael Clark

August Rush (PG) Freddie Highmore ("Finding Neverland") is the only interesting facet of this blatant modern rip-off of "Oliver Twist." If you dread predictable or saccharine-laced movies, steer far clear of "August Rush." But if you revel in feel-good weepies, rush on over to see it - you'll be reaching for a hanky even before the opening credits finish. 2 stars - MC

Bee Movie (PG) Jerry Seinfeld's long-awaited feature film debut is like an episode of his old TV show, only three times longer and animated. Geared more toward adults than children, the first half's mostly wacky misadventures morph into a preachy and downbeat finale. It's ultimately saved by celebrity voice cameos from Sting, Ray Liotta, Larry King and Oprah Winfrey. 21/2 stars - MC

Beowulf (PG-13) Director Robert Zemeckis uses "motion-capture" animation in this brilliant adaptation of the classic epic poem. Pushing the PG-13 envelope far with bloody gore and suggestive erotica, the film is an eye-popping feast with humor inserted in just the right places and deep, resonant, universal themes. You won't find a more entertaining 2007 movie than this one. 4 stars - MC

Enchanted (PG) The Disney studios do the near impossible here, skewering their entire "fairy-tale" catalog while simultaneously paying homage to it. Amy Adams as the charmingly precious lead princess is never less than brilliant. Patrick Dempsey as a skeptical attorney and James Marsden as a vacuous prince take turns as love interests. 31/2 stars - MC

The Golden Compass (PG-13) Based on the first book in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" triptych, "The Golden Compass" is a competent, albeit largely forgettable, family-fantasy. Instead of pegging a writer/director with the proper action credentials, the studio chose Chris Weitz ("American Pie," "About a Boy"), a guy who is clearly out of his element here. 21/2 stars - MC

Hitman (R) Not quite based on the video game of the same name, "Hitman" is a quickly slapped together hodgepodge of other sharp-shooting action films. Fans of the game have complained, citing it strays too far from the original concept. For audiences not familiar with the game and looking only for gunfire and pyrotechnics, "Hitman" will make for a passable, if weak, way to kill 90 minutes. 2 stars - MC

The Mist (R) After crafting a classic Stephen King adaptation ("The Shawshank Redemption"), then a so-so one ("The Green Mile"), director/adaptor Frank Darabont hits rock bottom with "The Mist." Less a spooky, supernatural horror flick than clumsy, sociopolitical parable, the film is 30 minutes too long and features one of the most depressing endings of all time. 1 star - MC

No Country for Old Men (R) The Coen brothers return to their glorious, "Blood Simple" beginnings with this stark and brutal crime thriller adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel. Javier Bardem plays an assassin on the trail of a Vietnam vet (Josh Brolin) who stumbled upon $2 million in dirty money. Tommy Lee Jones co-stars as the sheriff chasing them. 31/2 stars - MC